As part of the move, David Besbris is stepping down as head of the directionless division, and Google product vice president Bradley Horowitz is taking his place. Besbris helmed Google+ for less than a year. Last April, he took over following the departure of Vic Gundotra.
Adding to the enigma that is Google’s social strategy, Horowitz didn’t even mention “Google+” by name in his confirmation blog post, on Sunday. Rather, he said: “I’m excited to be running Google’s Photos and Streams products!”
Now, Photos will operate independently from Stream, which most people think of as the main Google+ page. Meanwhile, Hangouts -- Google’s multi-person video chat feature -- is expected to exist as its own distinct service.
“It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users,” Horowitz added.
Horowitz clearly has his work cut out for him.
Conceived as a social network that might compete directly against Facebook and other popular platforms, Google+ never achieved the necessary scale.
Repositioned as a social layer of sorts, Google execs have recently been talking about the benefits of splitting Google+ into parts.
“I think increasingly you’ll see us focus on communications, photos and the Google+ Stream as three important areas, rather than being thought of as one area,” Sundar Pichai, Google’s senior vice-president of products, recently told Forbes.
“By launching a conventional social network, Google missed the pivotal opportunity to establish a data-positive paradigm for sharing, individual control, and personalization that set itself apart from Facebook,” Chris Messina, a former Google developer, explained in a blog post late last year. “Ultimately it offered too little, too late.”
Google has recently been building up its photo-based services. Just last month, it acquired photo backup and sharing app maker Odysee.